By Tokana Hasavi Jr – EM TV News, Port Moresby
Vanuatu’s Acting President, Marcellino Pipite, has pardoned himself and 13 other members of parliament after Vanuatu’s Supreme Court convicted them of bribery, the previous Friday.
Pipite, who is acting in the absence of President, Baldwin Lonsdale, claims the move was necessary to protect peace and stability, but he failed to explain why.
Political and legal pundits are examining part of the Vanuatu constitution that gives the president the power to override a court’s conviction via pardoning.
They say it’s not illegal, but claim the acting president used his interim powers in an opportunistic manner.
Pipite further supported his reason for maintaining Vanuatu’s peace and stability by citing civil conflicts in other Pacific islands, such as the Bougainville Crisis in PNG, and said he didn’t want Vanuatu to spiral down the same path.
President Lonsdale returned to Vanuatu yesterday and was deeply shaken by the events which unfolded in his absence.
In a speech yesterday he expressed his sorrow to the people of Vanuatu and described the move by Pipite as unlawful.